I have hundreds of reference photos, from years of collecting images that “I might paint one day.” I used one such image for a watercolor painting I just completed, entitled Magnolia. This painting is based on photos I took of the Magnolia trees in Washington DC about 6 years ago, when we took the kids there for spring break.
Magnolia is a small square painting, measuring eight inches long. It took a few rough starts before I figured out how I wanted to do the background. I loved the complicated branches in the photos, but I wanted the background to be a little fuzzy and blurry, so that the forefront flowers stood out. It was a lot of trial and error to get the effect I wanted. The pink of the Magnolia petals were also a challenge, since I don’t use white paint. I used a combination of Rose Madder, Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, and Phthalo Blue to create about 7 different pink variations. Then I painted many transparent layers to build up to the desired color.